Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Palms Picky When It Comes to Fertilizers; Here's What You Need to Look for on the Label before You Buy

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Palms Picky When It Comes to Fertilizers; Here's What You Need to Look for on the Label before You Buy

Article excerpt

Byline: TERRY BRITE DELVALLE

Finding the right fertilizer for palms can be a challenge. When you're shopping, get out those reading glasses and check the fine print.

For starters, look for the analysis code on the bag. For example, 8-2-12+4Mg. The numbers represent - from left to right - nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium and magnesium. These are the four nutrients needed in the largest quantities by palms.

Read the label to make sure that 100 percent of the nitrogen, potassium and magnesium are in a "controlled release form." Tip: To determine if these nutrients are 100 percent controlled release, you must look at the ingredients. If the nitrogen source only is listed as a controlled release form, then the fertilizer is acceptable. Don't purchase a fertilizer that has controlled-release nitrogen and "soluble" potassium. It is important to have a constant balance of these two nutrients to avoid potassium deficiency.

The fertilizer should have the following micronutrients: 1 percent to 2 percent manganese (Mn) and iron (Fe), plus trace amounts (0.5 percent to .2 percent) of boron (B), zinc (Zn) and copper (Cu). All micronutrients should be in a water-soluble form except for boron. The boron should be in slow-release form. Look for the word "granubor" on the label.

HOW AND WHEN TO APPLY FERTILIZER

Fertilizer should be broadcast using a rotary spreader under the canopy of palms and may extend into surrounding plant beds. Palm roots may grow up to 50 feet out from the plant so never apply a high-nitrogen lawn fertilizer within 50 feet of palms. Palm fertilizer is acceptable to woody plants as well as turf.

Fertilize palms with up to 15 pounds of 8-2-12+4 per 1,000 square feet of landscape area three or four times per year. Rates lower than 15 pounds are OK, but don't decrease the number of applications. If you do four applications, the schedule should be March, May, July and September. …

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